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Documentation on Chinese Bear Torture.
5 years ago

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5 years ago

The cruelty of sucking gallbladder juice (bile) from live bears in China

World Journal, Wednesday, April 15, 1998
(By Youn Show Lee; translated by Vicky Ho Lynn from the Chinese)

"The cruelty of sucking gallbladder juice from live bears in China"

A few months ago while on a business trip, I had a chance to visit Angel Bridge at the foot of Long Day Mountain in China. At that time, we also went to explore a large bear farm which is surrounded by forest and beautiful scenery --- it is truly an isolated paradise. All of sudden I saw about fifteen large cages with bears in them. The farm owner told me this is a gallbladder farm, the purpose of which is to continuously extract fluid from the bears' gallbladders. Because of the high demand, it is an extremely profitable business.

When we arrived at the farm, the bears and the caretaker seemed to be getting along very well, all was calm. Suddenly four huge men showed up and the bears suddenly started screaming fearfully and rocking their cages hard as if they saw a ghost. The caretaker told me every morning at eight o'clock liquid is drawn from their gallbladders. Around seven-forty-five, the bears become agitated and have no appetite to eat and they start screaming and crying desperately for help.

In white uniforms, and without any emotion on their faces, the four men went into one of the cages. They quickly used a steel wire to snatch the bear by the neck, at which point the bear's eyes bulged out and it started gnashing its teeth and crying. They are so scared to death and this trauma causes them to defecate at the same time.

In the bear's stomach, there is a hole with a steel tube inserted directly into the gallbladder. Outside the area there is a plastic tube connected to the steel tube for drawing the liquid. The area is covered tightly with surgical tape. When the time comes, the tape and cover are removed and a syringe is used to withdraw the green liquid from the gallbladder. Three big men went in and pressed bear's 4 legs with force and inserted a syringe into plastic tube. When the dark green gallbladder juice was sucked from bear's body, the poor bear opened her mouth so big, her two eyes were bulging and her entire body was trembling so hard throughout the whole procedure.

This kind of severe torturing went on for about two hours until all the bears had been subjected to the same torture. The crying and screaming was so hard and loud and echoed the entire mountain and valley. It frightened me so much, my heart ached and my head started spinning.

After this unthinkable torture, the bears used their paws to hold their stomachs. They curled up and shivered and I could see tears in their bright little eyes...

Around 10:30, someone cried out that there had been an accident in cage number 5. We followed the owner to rush into the bear farm and were shocked at what we saw. A brown bear had managed to pull out his own intestines and was holding them up in the air, roaring and screaming, as if he were madly "protesting" the cruelty and insanity of the humans. There was blood all over the cage. It was so difficult to watch such a suicidal scene. Never in my life had I been in such shock or so devastated. At that time, someone rang the security alarm, immediately people rushed into the bear farm and waving the sharp ax and big steel hook. The owner shouted :"Hurry to 'rescue' the bear paws!" The man in the cage was reluctant to continue to go forward. But the owner stamped his feet and kept yelling: "You have to cut them off while the bear is alive. That is the only way they are saleable!" Right after that, I saw the sharp ax swung and the number 5 bear's paws were immediately chopped off with blood gushing out.....

Perhaps the killing smell filled in the cage number 5. The other bears then suddenly started to cry and scream sadly and desperately again and had the tendency to be violent. It shook the whole island. The farm owner had a butcher background. When the bears appeared ready to act violently and workers were panicking and running away, the owner stopped them and ordered them to put "steel jackets" on five of the most aggressive bears and give them a shot of morphine. As soon as the bears saw the "steel jackets", they immediately became quiet. It seemed the bears all got the painful lessons from the "steel jackets", otherwise they would not calm down so quickly.

This whole unbelievable incident affected me so deeply that their sad and innocent faces haunted me day and night and will continue to haunt me until the day I die. I felt a strong need to expose this incident to the world. Please widely distribute this true story and hope that everyone who reads this will do something to stop this kind of insanity from Chinese bear farms and to help these desperate poor creatures. Definitely, the Chinese Animals protection law needs to be improved, urgently.

Reference: Vicky Ho Lynn, founder of "Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature(AHAN)".

email address:
Tel: 415-379-9937 , Fax: 415-379-9938
Address: 3739 Balboa Street, Suite 228
San Francisco, CA 94121 U.S.A.

Copies of the article in Chinese may be obtained by contacting Ms. Lynn

Reprinted from:


Legal Overview of Bear Farming and the Trade in Bear Bile
5 years ago

Legal Overview of Bear Farming and the Trade in Bear Bile

Laura E. Tsai

Animal Legal and Historical Center
Publish Date:
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

Legal Overview of Bear Farming and the Trade in Bear Bile

Return to Topic Page.

Bears throughout the world are exploited for their bile, which is considered a prized ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Asiatic black bears in China, South Korea, and Vietnam suffer on bile farms, where they are kept in small cages and painfully "milked" for their bile for the duration of their lives. Wild bears are also targeted, as their bile is considered more potent. As a result, American black bears, whose population is still healthy, are the new target of both legal and illegal hunting and trade of their parts.

The laws regulating bear farming are few. Bear farming is legal in China, where about 7,000 bears suffer on farms. China's Wildlife Protection Law lists Asiatic black bears under Class II protection, allowing for a limited number of permits to kill wild "nuisance" animals each year. The law also encourages domestication, breeding, and utilizing endangered wildlife resources. However, killing wild bears and international trade in bear parts is illegal, although the law is rarely enforced. Many wild bears in China are killed, and an illegal international trade thrives. 

Although bear farming has been illegal in South Korea since 1992, over 1,300 bears remain captive on farms while farmers hope that legal farming will resume. Wild bears over the age of ten can be legally killed for their gallbladders in South Korea. There is also thought to be a black market in bile between South Korea and China. In 2005, the Vietnamese government agreed to slowly phase out bear farming. However, the methods used to extract bile are even more inhumane than those used elsewhere, and over 3,400 bears continue to suffer on farms in Vietnam.

The laws regulating trade in bear gallbladders and bile are inconsistent and difficult to enforce. Asiatic black bears are currently listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and on Appendix I of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITE, which bans the trade of Asiatic black bears and their parts. However, American bears are on Appendix II, which allows for some trade. As it is nearly impossible to differentiate between bear species from their gallbladders, Asiatic black bears are often illegally traded internationally. 

For CITES to be effective, international cooperation is essential. Although all of the bear farming nations are signatories to CITES, they have failed to implement the trade controls necessary to enforce the agreement. The CITES Management Authority in China is even trying to implement a system in which bile from farmed Asiatic black bears could be traded internationally. CITES is also limited in that it only address international trade; trade occurring within a country's borders is regulated solely by the individual country.

In the United States, trade in bear parts is regulated by the federal Lacey Act and a patchwork of state laws. The Lacey Act makes is a federal offense to buy, sell, or transport in interstate commerce any wildlife parts which were taken in violation of a federal, state, or foreign law. As written, the Lacey Act should be effective against poachers as well as smugglers. However, the Lacey Act rarely leads to convictions. Without the resources to enforce various laws, few violators are caught. Those that are benefit from widely inconsistent state laws. Some states allow for hunting of bears, some allow for trade, and some states do not regulate bear hunting or trade at all. As such, hunters caught with gallbladders in a no-hunting state can easily claim they are from bears in a state where hunting is permitted. Similarly, smugglers can illegally acquire gallbladders in one state, then transport them to another where trade is legal. 

Penalties for violating hunting or trading laws also vary widely from state-to-state. For example, a trafficker in Colorado may face up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine, while a trafficker in Kentucky may receive only a $100 fine. In such a lucrative business, where gallbladders overseas are worth more than their weight in gold, heftier penalties need to be in place if they are intended to deter future conduct.

Due to the current failure of federal and state laws to combat the bear-parts trade, Congress is currently considering the Bear Protection Act of 2008. If passed, this bill would amend the Lacey Act to further protect bears from becoming victims of illegal hunting and trade of their gallbladders and bile. It would do so by making state laws more consistent, and extending protections to bears affected by the gallbladder trade in the same manner that other wildlife species are currently protected. However, even if passed, the bill would not affect legal hunting of bears. By continuing to allow hunting with few resources to ensure it is done legally, bears are still at risk.

For a more detailed discussion of this issue, click here.

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